Marketing apostate or grower

I understand some organizations don’t get marketing. It’s difficult to understand the emotional connections that build brand loyalty when you’re focused on incremental improvements in quality, reducing input costs and monitoring daily sales revenues.

The leaders that give lip service to marketing but little else, however, disappoint me the most. They say they support marketing, need to tell their fabulous story, then slash an already inadequate budget because instant results didn’t magically appear. Then they go two or three years trying to re-imagine themselves, reorganize trying to cut all the waste out of production, read a new leadership book or two, introduce a new theme or tagline and recommit to marketing, underfund it again, then yank the rug out from under the marketing team when the next quarter’s revenues don’t hit projections. It happens every three or four years, and before long the only brand the organization has earned is that of a marketing apostate.

It’s like planting a vineyard one year and then laying waste to it the next because it didn’t produce any grapes.

I’ve seen it happen from inside a organization. At first it just looks like a minor lack of focus, but the sustainability issue becomes permanent, another in a cycle of one-step-forward-and-two-steps-back activity. If you look around, you can probably find examples, too.

Brand happens with or without your participation. It lives in the minds of customers and takes long-term commitment and discipline to harvest the fruit of the marketing vine.

A lack of sustained discipline and commitment is also very expensive way to do business.

Discovering and embracing what makes your organization one of a kind – let alone creating uniqueness where none exists – often takes time-consuming, thorough and candid conversation with employees, distributors, customers … even vendors.

Creating a narrative that captures the emotional and rational elements of your brand can’t be done overnight.

And demonstrating the story over and over and over until employes embrace it and customers expect it can’t be done without meaningful and sustained investment.

When you stop and go, introducing a new story, a new look and feel, and new brand promise every two or three years, it costs more, not less. Each time you introduce a new brand story, you have to erase fragments of the old story that managed to grow roots, and nurture a whole new crop.

If you start over every couple of years, you’ll still be in the mush middle of bland brands, AND you will have spent a lot of money getting there.

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